by Uzma Jalaluddin, 2021
Enjoyable book. This is the first selection for the summer Old Town Library Take Me Away book club – selected by our leader, Librarian Meg Schiel. The characters are very endearing. I like that it was set in Toronto, in a Muslim area called the Golden Crescent. The main character is Hana Khan, a 24 year-old Muslim girl, daughter of beloved parents who immigrated from India. Her mother runs a restaurant called Three Sisters. Hana works there but dreams of being a radio station host. She has her own podcast and a mysterious, funny, wise man named StanleyP posts witty on-line comments after each podcast. They have quite the on-line relationship. Then, a young man (Aydin Shah) and his father come to the neighborhood to open a new restaurant and try to put Three Sisters out of business. Hana does her best to try and ruin their business before they can open it. She fails and learns lessons along the way about family secrets, dreams, racism.
Her family includes a beloved father (Baba) who is injured and can no longer work so stays home and does jigsaw puzzles and blesses his family with his loving presence. Hana’s sister, Fazeela, is pregnant with the “cantaloupe” and married to a wonderful man, Fahim, who loves her dearly. They help run the restaurant. Then, a cousin (Rashid) and an Aunt (Kawkab Khala) come for a visit from India and end up saving the day. There are white supremacists who spread hatred, trouble and fear, but in the end, they conquer them with love, joy, and humor. During the annual street festival, Aydin hires some talented dancers and musicians to entertain the crowd. The white supremacists are protesting, becoming more and more threatening. The entertainers play loud music with a good beat and their talented dancing, along with Aydin’s funny and goofy dancing, overcome their attempts to ruin the festival with their hatred and ugliness. By this time, Hana and Aydin have admitted to one another that they are in love. And, it turns out, StanleyP and Aydin are one and the same person! Nice, happy fairy-tale ending. Enjoyed this book.